And why Apple has the rest of the keys to the kingdom. That's what we're about to talk about here. Let me preface this by noting a few facts: The day I write this article is the first day since the launch of the Google+ BETA web and mobile-based service that we've seen the ability to invite new users up for more than a few hours. Another factoid: Google now has a successful presence in each of the following sectors: software (mobile and web-based,) global web-based search, web-based email, and media sales (primarily apps at the moment, with much more on the way in the near future.) Then they've got the most important component of all: a globally recognized top-tier brand. With each of these elements in place, Google, (and more specifically their new social networking project Google+,) has become truly and forevermore impossible to compete with.
Over the past week we've seen a massively impressive display unfold in the form of a social networking brand being layed out by Google with a simple "+" character. With that minor addition to their already perfectly ubiquitous name, Google and their network, which we'll from here on out call G+, has cemented themselves in as not only the next big thing on the internet, but the first "open" community conduit for not just us and our "friends," but everyone we could possibly want to connect with as well.
Is this what we've been waiting for?
It's a seller's market when it comes to brand-powered pushing of products. I didn't realize I needed an iPad until I had the opportunity to purchase one, and I certainly didn't need a Facebook account until I realized you needed a college-based email to get in to the network. That's the way Facebook ramped up, if you'll remember back a few years with me here, you needed an email account that you were only able to pick up if you were in one of the few allowed colleges in the world to be given Facebook access - in this way, Facebook was made exclusive and therefor desirable.
NOTE: Read Facebook "Awesome" Announcement Strewn with Veiled Google+ References to see if you agree with the idea that Zuckerberg and crew feel threatened by Google's new social network.
Several years down the line and the big blue social network opened its doors to everyone and anyone - but at that point it was such a big brand and so many people were already signed up, the masses had (and still have, to this day,) basically the same amount of option to sign up (or not) as they do to have an email address or a phone number. Google took and is still taking a very similar approach, though it's working MUCH faster and MUCH better now that social networking is a real solid concept, this time with invites and a Beta program to keep the otherwise uninterested masses out.
Now we're in - we've been in for about a week at this point, and the service is growing so fast, and the interactions we've been having have been so rewarding, diverse, and gigantic, that it doesn't seem like there's any drawbacks to this fantastic G+ service. So let's ask that question again: is this what we've been waiting for? If you're talking about a service that both allows us to share things with our friends AND interact with contacts we wouldn't otherwise ever really want to add as a "friend" on Facebook, then yes. If you're talking about a way to place a lightening rod in the internet for all of our various Google-related services we've ALREADY working with then yes.
They already have us
Google had us from the day they introduced Gmail. No, better yet, let me go you one better - they had us from the day my friend Justin told me back in 1997 that Google was the best way to find things on the internet, showing me how Google even showed you how fast your search was - only a few seconds! Wow! Why would I ever go back to using Yahoo or Webcrawler! Brilliant. Google has been a strong brand in my life since before the Apple resurgence, the iPod age, the age of simplicity. Google has been a strong brand since before it mattered if your online brand existed offline as well in some form or another. Google is such a strong brand that the logo, one of the worst in the history of the world, doesn't have a baring on how much I trust the company.
Google's Slick and Silent Rebranding
With this release comes the most silent but deadly rebranding of a company the world has ever seen, and it's already massively successful. While the rebranding of Apple into a god-level brand with the simplicity of the iPod is the king and shall forevermore be known as the king of rebrandings, Google here has taken the one eternally strong element in their logo mark, the color, and has turned it into the perfect environmental surround for a social network. This new social network's color scheme, being mostly white and having dashes of the Google rainbow here and there, takes the "you're now inside Facebook" aesthetic and throws it out the window in favor of a "you've always been here, and Google is with you" look at the social landscape.
See our Google+ Guide from Top to Bottom for more information on the full G+ service.
ALSO: read Google+ and the Privacy Pit by Chris Davies
Google isn't Facebook, but it doesn't want to be. While Facebook wants to capitalize on your personal life, Google wants to capitalize on your entire life. You've got the ability to be private here on G+, but you've also got the ability to be public - it's all one click away.
Google isn't Apple, but it… well maybe it DOES want to be. Though I'm certain Google doesn't want to limit itself to a group that only sells services, sells products, acts as the store and offers ties through theses elements, it certainly does want to master these elements at least. Apple has the sales game mastered - it manufactures a device, creates the operating system for the device, sells the device in their shop, then offers support for the device after the fact - plus now they're getting into supporting the device online with items such as iCloud, and iTunes has been around for several years now giving them control over the media they supply for the device. It's what appears to be a perfect system - but they don't own social networking.
Currently Google has Android, and though they don't directly manufacture hardware for the Android mobile operating system, they work closely with a whole slew of manufacturers to assure the world that the Android devices rolling out with the official Android Market are the ones they approve of. We've got a whole Android Community surrounding Google's mobile explosion, but we still type the words for the posts on MacBook Pros more often than not. Will Google ever edge Apple out from our desktops entirely? Not any time soon.
Google's Got It
Much in the same way Apple has the power, cash, and person power to take the market at every level, Google's got it too. Google has the power it needs to move forward, and now with their full attention turned to the social networking world, they're about to grab a whole lot more. Will Google get you? Chances are they already have! They've certainly got us - check out our full lineup over in the post by the name of SlashGear Officially on Google+, Join the G+ Party! -- but remember, we've still got a Facebook and a Twitter on standby, if you know what I mean.
For additional reading on Google+ from a similar perspective, take a look at the column What Google+, Circles, Sparks, and Huddle will Mean for Me and You also written by author Chris Burns. AND see what we thought of Google+ before we realized it wasn't just a huddle of sparky circles in the column Google Circles and what it Doesn’t Mean for You - written about a week before the official reveal of Google+ in its Beta form, the same form we're still working with today.